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View Full Version : WWII questions, mainly about widows



Amanda R.
02-05-2013, 08:57 AM
I researched this topic a few months ago and found a couple of sources, but now my searches are totally coming up blank. Any help would be appreciated.

1) I am trying to find out how much an American WWII widow would have received as pension if her husband was killed from 1942-1944. Would she continue receiving monthly payments afterwards? Would the amount increase based on his rank (more for widows of generals than privates)?

2) What happened to the body of a soldier when it arrived back in the states? Was the family solely responsible for having the casket interred or would the military take care of all the arrangements if the family was too emotionally distraught or poor to make their own arrangements?

frimble3
02-05-2013, 09:33 AM
Judging by the number of military cemetaries for Allied soldiers in WWII, I imagine that families would have to make special arrangements to have the body of a loved one returned.

Trebor1415
02-05-2013, 11:39 AM
Judging by the number of military cemetaries for Allied soldiers in WWII, I imagine that families would have to make special arrangements to have the body of a loved one returned.

My understanding is that in WWII the military originally buried all deceased servicemembers overseas. After the war the military then contacted the next of kin and asked if they wanted the remains to stay overseas (typically moved to one of the permament cemetaries) or returned to the U.S. at no charge to the family.

If the remains were returned the family could get a military funeral, including casket, for free or could arrange to pay for other arrangements.

As far as death benefits, google up "WWII U.S. death benefits" and see what you can find. That is the term I would use.

My understanding is that the standard GI insurance was the same for everyone. Almost every GI did sign up for the free insurance and typically they listed family as the benefectary.

Death related pension benefits are different. I don't know the details on those, but I do suspect it has to do with rank, length of service, etc. You should be able to find that with a bit of searching.

Trebor1415
02-05-2013, 11:44 AM
Here's info on current VA benefits. Note that these are the current benefits. I do not know when these started or if these are the same benefits that were offered during or right after WWII.

http://www1.va.gov/OPA/publications/benefits_book.asp

http://benefits.va.gov/persona/dependent_survivor.asp

http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/veterans-benefits-explained.html

http://www.veteransaidbenefit.org/va_help_surviving_spouse.htm

Amanda R.
02-05-2013, 12:09 PM
Thanks guys. This is a fiction novel I am working on, but would like it to be as accurate as possible, of course. I've been able to find tons of information on Australian widow benefits during the war, but not American. How weird is that? But that information on soldiers being buried overseas was very helpful.

alleycat
02-05-2013, 01:22 PM
It's probably not particularly relevant to your research, but there is a good video of the American military cemeteries overseas. It does have a little information about the burial policy at the times.

It's very touching. In some places the graves of American soldiers are still tended by locals who were alive during WWII.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOPywsx0MKM

Amanda R.
02-05-2013, 03:57 PM
Thanks, Alleycat.

shaldna
02-05-2013, 04:28 PM
Not sure how much it helps as it was more recently, but a friend of my aunts lost her soldier husband about 30 years ago and she recieved his pension. When she got married again the pension stopped. However, when her second husband died, the pension for the first husband became active again.

This is in the UK though.

Amanda R.
02-05-2013, 07:34 PM
Not sure how much it helps as it was more recently, but a friend of my aunts lost her soldier husband about 30 years ago and she recieved his pension. When she got married again the pension stopped. However, when her second husband died, the pension for the first husband became active again.

This is in the UK though.

That is really interesting that the pension would reactivate after the death of the second husband.

Siri Kirpal
02-05-2013, 10:56 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My husband's uncle was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. His grave is overseas.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

WeaselFire
02-06-2013, 08:26 AM
2) What happened to the body of a soldier when it arrived back in the states? Was the family solely responsible for having the casket interred or would the military take care of all the arrangements if the family was too emotionally distraught or poor to make their own arrangements?
Families may request veterans be buried in a National Cemetery. The burial plot and functions thereof are no charge. In WWII, most were buried in overseas cemeteries, again, at no charge. Any special arrangements, services, cremation, etc. are/were at the families' expense.

Widow's benefits were available in WWII, as well as pensions, similar to today. Can't tell you what the monetary amounts were though.

Have you tried contacting the VA and asking?

Jeff

Amanda R.
02-06-2013, 08:51 AM
Have you tried contacting the VA and asking?

Jeff

That is a great idea. I did email one of my university professors about it, but I haven't heard back. But contacting the VA is like, "duh, why didn't I think of that?" haha. Thanks!

Trebor1415
02-06-2013, 08:43 PM
That is a great idea. I did email one of my university professors about it, but I haven't heard back. But contacting the VA is like, "duh, why didn't I think of that?" haha. Thanks!


The VA will have the same info on current benefits that is included in the links I posted earlier. I very much doubt anyone there will know what benefits were available during or right after the war as they were different. Still, can't hurt to ask.

Maybe some history prof somewhere would know or some other resource on the the home front in WWII. (This assumes you want to know what benefits were then. If you just want to know what they are now, that's easy)

frimble3
02-07-2013, 12:55 AM
If not the VA, try the Legion, although I suspect what you want aren't veterans, but their widows. They'll remember what pensions they got (are getting). Maybe not the paperwork, but how much they had to live on. My aunt married at 18 in 1944, and she's 88 and remembers it well. Although she's of no use to you, being Canadian and not widowed until recently.
I see by your avatar that you're in China, which probably makes contact Stateside more difficult, perhaps some seniors' groups are on-line?